KUALA LUMPUR - Suspected Islamic State-linked militants kidnapped 10 fishermen off Borneo island Tuesday and took them to the southern Philippines, police said, the latest abductions in the strife-torn waters.
The heavily armed assailants snatched the group of nomadic sea gypsies in the early hours as they sailed in two boats off eastern Sabah state, in the Malaysian part of Borneo.
Six others escaped.
Sabah police chief Omar Mammah confirmed to AFP that the fishermen had been kidnapped.
Kidnap-for-ransom gang Abu Sayyaf is thought to be responsible, and the fishermen were taken to islands in the south of the country, reported Malaysia's official news agency Bernama, citing police.
The southern Philippines is home to numerous armed groups, and Abu Sayyaf is notorious for kidnappings of foreigners.
The militants, who demand large ransoms and have beheaded several hostages, have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.
There has been a spate of kidnappings in the waters between the southern Philippines and the Malaysian part of Borneo in recent years. Borneo is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Several Southeast Asian nations began naval patrols in the area in 2017 in a bid to deter kidnappers.